Facing Our Fears

What are you afraid of? Spiders? Heights? Losing your job?

One of my biggies is snakes. Particularly large, poisonous ones.

I set off on a walk one recent afternoon and soon found myself immersed in the beauty of the glorious fall day. My mind whirled with blog post ideas. A sense of peace filled me.

When I crested a gentle rise, two men on mountain bikes were parked, one next to a fence the other on the shoulder opposite, engrossed in conversation. There was plenty of room for me to pass between them, so I forged ahead with a determined stride.

Upon reaching the cyclists, the bushy-bearded man nearest me said, “Are you going to walk right by the snake?”

“What snake?” I asked.

He glanced at the left side of the trail, and my gaze followed.

There was a snake all right. A five-foot-long rattlesnake took up half of the trail. With the bikers parked on each side of it, the only way for me to get past that snake was to walk beside the diamond-backed reptile, one that was very much alive.

In the past I would’ve screamed, run, or both. I’ve grown more courageous in recent years, though. I saw that the snake was presently immobile, its head pointed away from me. I remembered my husband telling me snakes move more slowly when the weather cools. I realized I could pass by it and finish my walk or give in to my fear and turn around.

With a boldness I didn’t know I possessed, I strode right by that rattler. It didn’t move, but the heads of those men did as they followed my progress. I caught a glimpse of the bearded man’s face as he gaped in disbelief.

He wasn’t the only one shocked. I’d surprised myself. Thoughts raced through my mind. I just walked within two feet of a live rattlesnake. It could have bit me. It didn’t. I’m OK. Wow! I’m as brave as my heroine who faced one of the poisonous creatures.

My feeling of victory stayed with me throughout the next two miles.

And then I remembered that I had to pass that way again.

As I approached the portion of the trail where I’d encountered the snake, I had to force myself not to slow my steps. This time I knew what I might find, and fear slithered into my over-active mind.

No one was around, so I talked to myself. You did it before; you can do it again. Courage is simply facing our fears and doing it anyway.”

I remembered something my husband has often said to me. “Eighty percent of what we fear never happens.”

The Lord’s words to Joshua came to mind. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid.”

I marched up that hill, and guess what I saw?


The snake was gone.

I completed my walk, feeling a sense of accomplishment. That’s not to say I’m OK with rattlesnakes now, but I realized I can allow my fears to keep me from getting where I want to go, or I can face them as I did that day and achieve my goals.

• • •

What fears and phobias do you have? How do you choose to deal with them?

Can you recall a time when you faced a fear head-on and felt a feeling of mastery?

(rattlesnake image from istockphoto)

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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38 Responses to Facing Our Fears

  1. Wendy says:

    Such a powerful message today, Keli. My husband often tells me “I run down the path”…(of my fears). I have a strong imagination, what can I say? 😉 But this is such a reminder that most of the time what we worry about doesn’t come to pass.
    My fears are probably more emotional than physical. Hmm…thinking.
    ~ Wendy

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Wendy, I definitely think our writers’ imaginations contribute to our fears. I can dream up so many scary scenarios that I can freak myself out at times.

  2. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    I am afraid of many things: beating husbands, drunk men, militaries, low flying helicopters, shaking grounds and quakes, tsunamis, criminals, the dark, suddeen noises, aggressive men and people, manipulating people, fake friends…. I have lived 7 years in Peru and am in traumatherapy, that explains a lot….

  3. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    Keli, I can understand that you are afraid of snakes. Luckily we don´t have such dangerous snakes here in Germany. xxx

  4. I’m afraid of failure. Of going for my dreams and falling flat on my face. But then I realize, if I don’t try, I’ll never know–and I think I’m MORE afraid of never trying, of living a life without meaning or purpose. So I strive on, past my proverbial snake. 🙂

  5. cynthiaherron says:

    Keli, I guess I probably shouldn’t tell you that we were surprised to find a little “friend” in the walk-out basement of our home a few years ago. I thought our children were teasing me when they said they’d captured it under a butter dish lid! (Our daughter actually almost touched it–she thought it was one of the look alike bugs that had tumbled out of her toybox.) Long story short: DH arrived home, rescued the little garden snake, and set him free in the pasture across from our home. And yes, I, too, am petrified of those critters! (A suggestion though…Would it be possible to carry some sort of walking stick with you as you walk? I have a BIG one! 🙂 )

    Now, another wee fear of mine? Flying. I’ve done it–begrudgingly. Confined spaces and heights are a bit troubling to me. However–I’m working on it. Kinda difficult to promote our books from our comfy, cozy offices!

    Congratulations on facing your fear! Go get ’em!

    • Keli Gwyn says:


      Eek! A snake in the house is freaky. I’m glad your hubby came to the rescue.

      I didn’t have a walking stick, but I contemplated how much damage I could do if I were to fling the hand weights I was carrying at the snake. Unfortunately with my aim, all I’d probably have done was rile the rattler. I wonder if mace has any effect on snakes. Hmm.

      I don’t like flying, but since I like attending conferences I’m forced to do so. I found a great solution. When I attended the ACFW conference this year, I flew to St. Louis with my friend and roomie. We talked writing, and that made the time pass quickly. Of course, we got a bit carried away, and another passenger asked the flight attendant to shush us. Oops!

  6. Good for you Keli, take that fear by the throat and strangle it. Easy for me to say sitting here safe from big ugly spiders. I don’t care if Charlotte is cute, or if the biggest, hairest of them actually don’t bite, it is my nemisis and when I encounter one, I tell myself this: Well nature intended this little sucker to help keep down the flying insect problem, like wind and rain clear out the dusty plains, like snow provides a blanket for spring seeds, like me running like hell to give that little guy a chance to find dinner. I think phobias are the symbols of other things and if I wanted to deconstruct my fear of spiders I might find it has to do with something else. Alas, I am not inclined.

    However, the average person doesn’t come upon a snake or a spider every day. What we all encounter every hour of every day we write is fear of failure. Or are we actually afraid of the opposite and how we’ll learn to live in a world that acutally likes what we have to say?

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Florence, like you, I feared spiders for years, despite Charlotte’s engaging personality and way with words. I can take them on these days most of the time, although last night there was one in the kitchen. I was barefoot and asked my hubby, who was wearing shoes, to do the deadly deed.

      I battle writing-related fears on a daily basis. I welcome my characters’ voices in my head, but I wish I would gag the other voices that taunt me and tell me my work is no good or that I’m nuts for thinking anyone will ever like my stories.

  7. Loree Huebner says:

    Inspiring post, Keli.

    I’m afraid of storms…or I should say, I used to be. It stems from a childhood fear. Now I face them coming on. They’re not so scary, and can be quite amazing to watch.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Loree, there’s something so powerful in a storm, isn’t there? I’ve been known to peer out the window from the safety of my warm, dry home and watch lightening pierce the sky. I think if I lived in a different part of the country where there are tornadoes or hurricanes, I’d have a fear of storms, though.

  8. Jodi Janz says:

    Fears are a part of my life and they seem to come out of every crevice now that I am writing. I would have to agree with ‘ramblingsfromtheleft’ … I am equally afraid of failing as I am of succeeding. My hubbie thinks I’m a little crazy. But honesty helps right? I hope.
    I deal with fear a lot on my blog because it is a very real thing for me and I am trying not to be paralysed by it.

    Here’s my question though … were the bikers too scared to cross the snake’s path? Perhaps you inspired them to be courageous too. (Since they weren’t there when you got back???)
    Way to go Keli! You go Girl!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Jodi, I totally get the fear of success. Now that I’m contracted and looking forward to my book’s release in July, I’m dealing with a whole new set of “what if’s.” What if readers don’t like my story? What if I can’t get another contract? What if I don’t do adequate promotion? What if my book doesn’t sell enough copies to earn out my advance?

      What’s helped me is remembering that much of what I’m worried about is out on my control. Yes, I can work on promotion, but I can’t control reader reaction or single-handedly sell enough books to pay back my advance. What I can do is write the best stories possible and build relationships with the wonderful people like YOU that the Lord brings into my life.

      Regarding the snake . . From what I could tell, the biker dudes were trying to figure out what to do about the snake. I like to think my courageous act inspired them to take action themselves and that’s why the snake was nowhere to be seen when I returned. =)

  9. Great encouragement today, Keli! I’m not a fan of any animal to be honest. 🙂 I am terrified of open heights. So, I just don’t climb mountains or cliffs and I stay off my fridge. Let it stay dusty.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Jesse, I don’t like heights either. I figure it comes from being short and living life so close to the ground. =)

      Being short does have it’s advantages. I can’t see the top of the refrigerator, so I don’t notice the dust on top of it.

  10. diannechristner says:

    First, way to go Keli! I love it! But fear is my number one enemy. I can so relate. I’m trying to work on my faith in that area. I think my writing career is stretching me, allowing me to do things I didn’t dream possible. For that I’m grateful. For me, if I think God’s in it, then I have way more courage. I’d hate to leave this topic without giving you my creepy critter fear…scorpions. I was stung one, though and survived. It felt about like slamming your hand in a car door. It’s just that they’re so silent and creepy. Every time I let down my guard, I spy one. Yes, we find about four a year inside the house…living in the desert. They are the thorn in my flesh! But I put them out of mind and do what I have to do. That includes killing them if nobody else is around. 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Dianne, like you I battle fear on a regular basis. I wish I didn’t. It helps knowing others are afraid, too. Even a mighty leader like Joshua had to be reminded to be strong and courageous, so I know the Lord understands and is there to help me through my scary times. And yes, there are plenty of them in the publishing world.

      Scorpions! Yikes! I don’t like them either. We get a couple of small ones in the house each year, and I had to learn to face them. Thankfully most of them appear in the tub, so I can wash them down the drain. I sure wouldn’t want to come upon one of your desert variety, though. I think I would scream.

  11. Oh my goodness, Keli, I’m getting the shivers just thinking about seeing a snake like that. How cool that you marched right on by. I can totally picture it! 🙂 (And great reminders for life in this post too.)

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Sarah, I did shudder once I’d passed the snake. What’s amazing to me is that my reaction came after the encounter. I usually freak at the time. 🙂

  12. Donna Pyle says:

    YAY, Keli!! I’m not sure I would’ve been so brave, even though snakes don’t particularly bother me. It’s the whole venemous fangs sinking into some part of me that creeps me out. 🙂 Mine is dolls. Dolls are creepy, because they wake up in the middle of the night to find and kill you. That’s just what they do. In case you didn’t know, be forewarned…. 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Donna, sounds like there must be an interesting doll encounter in your past. I’ve seen some pretty scary looking Cabbage Patch dolls, I will admit. 🙂

  13. bethkvogt says:

    Thank you for not posting photo of spiders at the top of your blog. I would not have been able to read the post. Truly.
    I hates spiders.
    I won’t write a list of what else I fear … but I like your husband’s quote and found it to be true. Sometimes you have to admit you afraid of something and, um, walk on. Just like you did that day with the rattlesnake. Keep moving.
    Take the fear with you and keep moving.
    It works for me.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Beth, I don’t like spiders either. When I was a kid and would find a picture of one in any of my school books, I didn’t even like to touch the page.

      It creeped me out looking for the rattlesnake picture on the istockphoto site. So many all at once. *shudder*

  14. Jill Kemerer says:

    Wow, Keli! I’m impressed. I’ve gotten bolder about my fears too. I used to not be able to be in the same room as a spider, but now I can kill them if I have to. That’s what’s nice about having men around the house–they’re my heroes!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Jill, my hubby used to come to my rescue, but now that we’ve been married almost 24 years I think he’s gotten tired of being the resident bug killer.

      I had to deal with a cricket on my own last month even though Gwynly was right there in the garage with me. I reminded him of the Great Cricket Invasion I dealt with when I was young, an event that scarred me for life, don’tcha know, but even that didn’t work. Half a can of Raid later, that cricket was history. My kind, supportive hubby admired my bravery–even if he did find my approach at cricket eradication to be overkill.

  15. spiders. totally. amazing how having a child who is also not fond of spiders makes me face that fear head on with a vengeance. it’s kill or be killed/subject my child to being killed. no brainer. and a no-win situation for any spider who happens to show his freaky, spindly little legs. ugh.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Jeannie, spiders do have “freaky, spindly little legs,” don’t they? Love that description. =)

      A mother’s protective instincts are a powerful thing, strong enough to overcome fears that might cripple us otherwise. Twenty years ago when we lived in Germany, I sat our infant down in her carrier as I prepared to put her in the car. A gargantuan June bug fell from the roof of the old stone carport we used, falling within inches of her. I remember thinking afterward that cowardly me would have picked that humongous beetle up with my bare hands and flung it to Kingdom come if it had come to rest on my baby. I’m sooo grateful it didn’t. It really was HUGE–and ugly.

  16. Chiggers that I can’t see that bite me and I am allergic to mites which chiggers are in that family of critters. They wait at the edge of our lawn and say, “Wait, here she comes!”
    We have lived in Missouri two years and I feel housebound off the blacktop driveway no matter what sprays I apply or put my pant legs inside my socks. Yuk! Soooo…. after our first frost, I can go out and tackle my fern and hosta bed to remove the wandering large violets that want to overtake them.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      I took a look at the picture of Lane Hill House on your blog. What a delightful place you have.

      We don’t have chiggers in California, but I’ve read stories that mentioned them. Sounds like they can be mighty bothersome.

      Violets are the favorite flower of the heroine in my debut novel. I think they’re such a pretty flower. I’m used to seeing tiny ones. I’m sure your large variety are lovely.

      • Thank you for coming to visit my blog, Keli, and for the comments you left. I had to go back and remove the exclamation point. Looking rather bland without one, and I am wanting to put one here, too. I must exclaim a lot. I am enjoying your posts. I was diagnosed with bone loss pre-osteoporosis and have been doing daily hour exercise classes at the Y weekdays. I have lost 17 pounds since the 3rd week of July when I began, so I am firming up. That is before the holidays I suspect. I like your oreo turkey!

  17. A bad experience many years ago combined with moderate claustrophobia cause panic attacks when I attend any kind of medical appointment. I hate being held captive by the fear that sneaks up, but I’ve learned how to head off the attacks even though it takes meds. God gave us Ativan for a reason. 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Carol, I’m sorry you had a bad experience and deal with panic attacks as a result but am glad to hear you’re finding ways to deal with them.

  18. Marsha Young says:

    Wow! Walking by a live rattler … okay, I’m just not “there” yet. 🙂 But good for you!

  19. Marji Laine says:

    Oh my gosh! You are the woman!

    I think my deepest fear right now is failure. I hate to make mistakes, especially the ones I can’t fix. I think it’s why I just keep writing and can’t bring myself to send anything in.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Marji, I understand your fear of failure. I wrestle with it, too. Sending our work out to be judged, or even rejected, can be tough. I remind myself that the only way to move forward toward my publishing goals is to take risks.

      Ultimately, when we get contracted and published, we’ll be putting our stories into the hands of readers and dealing with their reviews, which won’t always be flattering. I figure submitting to the publishing pros is training for that experience. It’s not easy, but some of the biggest rewards in life come as a result of doing things that are challenging or scary.

      • Marji Laine says:

        Thanks so much for your encouragement. I’m not giving up the dream. I’ll keep pushing ahead and polishing. I’ll take the next step … when these stories get their make up and hair done!

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